A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The parish, which contains 1,518 acres of land, 900 acres of foreshore, and 209 acres of tidal water, forms a peninsula between two branches of Chichester Harbour, its southern-most point being at Cobnor. A prolongation northwards reaches as far inland as Hambrook. From this point a road runs southwards, crossing the railway and the Portsmouth Road, to the church, village, and Middleton Farm in the centre of the parish. It is good agricultural land, largely used for market gardening. The chief claim of the parish to fame lies in its having been the source of 'Chidham wheat', a prolific variety discovered c. 1790 by Edmund Woods, who then owned the Manor Farm. (fn. 1)
A terrier of 1635 (fn. 2) shows that Chidham was divided into the tithings of Weston, Middleton, and Easton. It also gives a long list of 'museplots' (fn. 3) which paid tithes, containing from 2 acres downwards, including many reckoned in 'stitches'. (fn. 4) Some 516 acres were inclosed in 1812, under an Act of 1809, and a further inclosure in the north of the parish was made in 1821. (fn. 5)
The village is small and contains few buildings of interest. The Manor House north of the church is a large Jacobean building disguised by modern roughcast and slate-covered roofs. It contains an 18th-century staircase and some good panelling. Middleton House, ¼ mile north-east of the church, is a good example of a house of c. 1730. The walls are of purple brick with red brick dressings and moulded eavescornice. It has a middle entrance with a pediment, and segmental-headed sash windows.
'Chidmere House', ¼ mile south-east of the church, is of early Tudor origin, largely renovated in 1930. It is of L-shaped plan, the ranges extending east and south, with walls of a mellow red brick. Oak panelling, some of which is said to have borne the date 1521, was removed from two upstair rooms in 1912, but some oak and pine panelling remains, and the partition walls are of early wattle and daub. The property belonged to the family of Eedes from 1688 to 1788. (fn. 6)
CHIDHAM is not mentioned in Domesday, being then included in the Bishop of Exeter's estate of the Chapelry of Bosham, of which it became the manorial centre. In 1243 the confirmatory grant of the chapelry to the bishop included the manor of Chidham. (fn. 7) It was stated in 1290 that the Bishop of Exeter held the chapel of Bosham and the manor of Chidham, in which were free and villein tenants who did suit to the Earl of Norfolk's hundred of Bosham; but in the hamlet of Westinton, a member of Chidham, he had certain small tenants, each holding 3 acres, who were his servants, such as reapers, shepherds, swineherds, and ploughmen, and they came at Easter and Michaelmas to view of frankpledge before the bishop's bailiff at Chidham with the ripereeve (messore) as their tithingman and appeared before the coroner in the tithing of Westinton and not elsewhere. (fn. 8)
After the dissolution of the College of Bosham the Bishop of Exeter in 1548 conveyed the manor of Chidham to Thomas Fisher, to whom it was confirmed next year. (fn. 9) He then transferred it to Henry Bickley, (fn. 10) who died holding it of the Crown in 1570. (fn. 11) His son Thomas died seised thereof in 1588, leaving a son Thomas, then only 3 years old, (fn. 12) who died in 1640. (fn. 13) His heir was said to be Thomas Pay, great-grandson of Henry Bickley's daughter Honor, but Thomas Bickley bequeathed this manor to Brewen, or Brune, Bickley (grandson of Henry) and Cicely (Ryman) his wife and Richard his son. (fn. 14) Richard apparently died before his father, whose estates passed to a younger son Henry, (fn. 15) who died in 1707, leaving the manor of Chidham to trustees for sale. (fn. 16) It was apparently bought by Richard Lumley, Earl of Scarborough, and descended with Westbourne (q.v.) until the death of Richard Barwell in 1805, after which it seems to have been sold to Edmund Woods by his trustees. (fn. 17) William Padwick owned it in 1822, (fn. 18) Charles Cheesman is said to have purchased it some time before 1835, (fn. 19) after which date its history is obscure. Sophie, Lady Gifford (widow of the 3rd Baron, who died in 1911) is named as lady of the manor between 1915 and 1922, (fn. 20) but it was said to be in the hands of Albert Eadie in 1919. (fn. 21) Subsequently it was acquired by Lord Iveagh, the present owner.
A subinfeudation appears in 1621 when Sir Richard Worseley, bart., died seised of the manors of CHIDHAM HACKET and MIDDLETON, held of Thomas Bickley, which he had granted in 1616 to Lady Elizabeth widow of Sir Richard White and Elizabeth White her daughter for their lives. (fn. 22) The property evidently descended in the family as in 1720 Sir Robert Worseley, bart., and Frances his wife conveyed the manor of Chidham Hacket alias Middleton to John Wakeford. (fn. 23) In 1793 the manor was conveyed by Samuel Colby and Mary his wife and John McFarland and Elizabeth his wife to Joseph Postlethwaite, (fn. 24) but no other mention of it is known.
The church (invocation unknown) (fn. 25) stands south of the Manor House. It consists of chancel, nave with stone bell-cote, short north aisle, and south porch; it is built of flint rubble, mostly plastered, with ashlar dressings, and is roofed with tile. The chancel and nave are of the 13th century, the aisle was added in the 14th, the porch, and the roofs throughout, are modern.
In the east wall of the chancel is a lancet triplet, entirely modern; (fn. 26) in each side wall are two plain lancets with pointed rear-arches; the outer stonework of the eastern window on the north side is modern, the rest are of the 13th century. A piscina in the south wall has a 13th-century square-framed trefoil head and a modern basin; east of this is a small low recess, its sill almost at ground level, with plain segmental arched head, date and use unknown. In the flooring next to this is a taper-sided 13th-century tombstone of Purbeck marble, its upper surface much worn. The medieval stone altar slab is set in the floor under the communion table. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, the inner resting on corbels, the outer on square responds; this appears to have been heightened and widened in the 19th century, the old stones being, as far as possible, reused.
On the south side of the nave is a small shallow recess with square head; its position is that of a piscina, but no trace of a drain remains. In this wall are three lancet windows, the second is of the 13th century, the first and third each replace a two-light window with square head, shown in a drawing of 1805 in the Sharpe collection; the jambs of the splays of the old windows seem to have been reused. Between the second and third windows is a plain doorway with pointed arch, the outer stonework modern, the inner perhaps 13th-century. In the north wall of the nave, high up, is a square opening formerly giving access to the roodloft. West of this is a short arcade of two bays, of the 14th century, the single pier is octagonal, with moulded capital and base; the two responds each have the form of a half-pier; the pointed arches are of two chamfered orders. West of this is the north doorway, a plain pointed arch of the 13th century; beyond this is a single 13th-century lancet like those in the south wall. The west wall is thicker than the others, and has two shallow buttresses, perhaps designed to support a stone bell-cote; but the present bell-cote is entirely modern, and replaces a square timber one with pyramidal roof, shown in the drawing of 1805.
Between the buttresses is a doorway with pointed arch, now blocked, perhaps 13th-century; on the inner side of the blocking are inserted some scraps of 15th-century panelled stonework, perhaps the remains of a tomb. Over the doorway is a single wide lancet of the 13th century. A small screened vestry occupies the west end of the nave.
At the east end of the north aisle is a two-light window with trefoil heads and no tracery, the southern-most light being both higher and wider than the other; the exterior stonework of this is modern, but appears to be a reproduction of the window shown in a drawing of 1795; the outer stonework of the west window is also modern; it is of the same design as the eastern, save that the two lights are of equal breadth. In the east respond of the arcade is a small piscina with pointed head and stone credence shelf, apparently entirely modern.
The font has a cup-shaped basin passing into a base whose plan is a square with the corners cut off; the date is uncertain, perhaps 1660; it was found under the nave floor during 19th-century alterations, and is set on a modern square base. The other fittings are modern.
There are three bells, all modern and uninscribed, possibly recast from the old ones which bore the respective dates 1581, 1586, and 1638. (fn. 27)
The communion plate includes a silver cup in the form of a porringer with two scroll handles. This and the cover to it, which forms a paten, bear the hallmarks for 1704. The flagon is of pewter. (fn. 28)
The registers begin in 1652.
Chidham was one of the prebends of the College of Bosham and the church was served by a vicar, who was receiving £10 19s. in 1535. (fn. 29) After the suppression of the college the advowson descended with the manor, Thomas Bickley presenting in 1626 and 1639, Richard Barwell in 1794, and his widow Catherine Mundy in 1823. (fn. 30) After her death it seems to have been sold to John Henry Candy (fn. 31) of Littlehampton, who in 1858 conveyed the advowson to the Rev. R. Broome Pininger, rector of Whichford (Warws.) to the use of Hester Walker for life with remainder to her nephew the Rev. George Alfred Walker. (fn. 32) Miss Walker died in 1863; (fn. 33) the Rev. G. A. Walker was vicar from 1858 until 1898, (fn. 34) shortly after which date the advowson was acquired by the Bishop of Chichester, who is the present patron.
In 1523 there was a guild of St. Cuthman in Chidham, (fn. 35) but although it was then in a flourishing condition, having stock worth £5, there is no other definite reference to it; but in 1550 (?) the sum of 10s. was seized for the king from some 'superstitious' body in Chidham, (fn. 36) which may have been this guild. 'St. Culmans feild neere St. Cullmans Dell', mentioned in 1635 as bounded on the north by the sea, (fn. 37) had probably belonged to the brotherhood.
By an inscription on the walls of the parish church it appears that Honour Wayte gave to the poor of this parish 20s. yearly for ever. The money is paid out of land in the parish of Hambledon and is distributed by the vicar.